Thursday, May 10, 2012

"How do you do that?????"

"How do you do that" is a frequent question I hear at shows and openings of my work. After describing how I throw the forms on the potter's wheel and carve into them when they are leather hard, the second question is " What tools do you use?"  Unlike a potter friend and fellow carver who uses only one tool for all of her carving, I have quite an assortment. I've never been able to subscribe to "Less is More", for me, it's  always"More is More". Each pot seems to require a different set of tools depending on the forms and textures I am creating. 

When I first began carving old dental tools and X-Acto knives were my main tools. Dental tools are great for creating the undercuts to make your images pop and the X-Acto  knives work well for smoothing excised backgrounds and more geometric forms. 

Dolan tools are great for scooping out curved petals when the clay is soft leather hard.  

Rule of thumb:  softer leather hard, use duller tools, stiffer leather hard, use sharper tools.

Then I discovered this set of mini sculpture tools in the Dick Blick catalogue.  These are now my favorites.  I've colored coded the handles because, when I am wearing magnifying glasses to carve, everything on my table is a blur. The colors help me to grab the tool I want with less fumbling.  


 Loop tools of all sizes are great for excising backgrounds

Lately, I've discovered that cosmetic sponges work the best for refining my porcelain surfaces.  They leave very little texture behind.

Lastly, I have become very picky about the spray bottles that I use.  I am misting my pots constantly to keep them workable for the long time that I need to complete the carving.  I have found that hair product spray bottles give me the finest mist.
Maybe I should print this out to include with my resume at my next opening????????


Martha Boshart said...

Cosmetic sponges. Color coded tools. Now that's the traits of real professionals. Thanks for sharing those tips. Your work is so very lovely and the blog so generous.

Unknown said...

Well, even with sharing all your tool secrets I am still left in awe of the work you do! You are a gifted artist, for sure!

I like the bumble & bumble products too ;)

dolliff said...

It's always interesting to see the tools that potters find. Your work is exceptional. Thanks for sharing.

Sadhana said...

Lovely to see your tools.
It is like looking at extra fingers that have evolved to do your sculpting :)
I love picking up all sorts of bits to use as tools.

Linda Starr said...

This would make a great printed placard description at an opening, thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I also carve pieces and use a variety of tools. I may now add to those having seen your blog! My brother is a dentist and may have some spare tools.
We are opening the kiln tomorrow on a reduction firing using shino and chun glazes on carved small cups. It's my first with this kiln - if they are OK I'll put a photo of so on Facebook.
Thanks once again for your generosity

Richard Jones said...

I didn't mean to be that anonymous

Yaya1 said...

Thank you so much for your generous sharing. As a potter, sculptor, I am just retiring to my love of carving.This post, not to mention your exceptionally exquisite work is more than inspirational.

Yaya1 said...

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Thank you so much for your generous sharing. As a potter, sculptor, I am just retiring to my love of carving.This post, not to mention your exceptionally exquisite work is more than inspirational.

Anna said...

beautiful carving - thanks for sharing your tips and techniques

Elaine Bradley said...

Great to be given some insight into the source and purpose of your tool stash. Thank You.

klineola said...

Great post!

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Not sure how I've missed this posting before today. Looks like I'm on the right path with tools.
Loved seeing your cup up close at the Council's booth at NCECA!!!
Warm Regards,

Anonymous said...

Amazing Work.The patterns look extraordinary.There is another pottery site i like where you can find pottery decorative and gifting items.